3 min read

Why So Serious?

Two months back, I had an audition for a big gig — a nice ten-week contract with a great director and a meaty character. Unsurprisingly, I wanted it.

Typically, when I want something, I get serious. The upside being that I work my booty off, the downside being that I get serious serious. And serious serious people aren't the kind of people you want to be spending every waking moment of the next ten weeks with.

So, to ensure serious serious Tahlia wasn't the Tahlia walking into the audition room, I popped on my headphones before each round and watched a particular music video. "R&B Crying" — aside from being an absolute BANGER — is one of my go-to's when I need to lighten up some. I can't help but smile. I can't help but giggle. I can't help but boogie a little.

Now, I won't claim that this ritual alone got me to the final two (I did mention working my booty off, right?), but I sure as hell can say I showed up waaay more playful and present than I have previous auditions of similar weight. And while I didn't end up booking the gig, I'm 99% certain I booked the room — largely thanks to the vibe I vibed.

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An origin story

Just so we're crystal, seriousness itself isn't inherently bad. There are times when we need to be, and it's actually a rather reliable indication of something possessing great meaning to us — whether a gig, a relationship or a specific outcome.

But when we examine seriousness further, we quickly realise that it only arises when we focus on a "negative" permutation of one of these meaningful things. It could be that something undesirable has occurred in the present, we're revisiting something undesirable that occurred in the past, or we're foreseeing something undesirable occurring in the future. Regardless of how we're time travelling, seriousness only joins us if the destination is one to be wary of.

This tendency is ingrained in the human race. Back in our caveman days, we had to remain hyper-alert to the negatives in our environment. That's how we survived. In that reality, letting up and kicking back had potentially life-threatening consequences (those darn sabre-toothed tigers).

So while this seriousness-equals-survival wiring still fires in our lives today, we're no longer at risk of encountering large, fanged cats. Instead of risking possible death, it's now possible judgment — both from ourselves and others. The underlying assumption being that if we aren't serious, we're essentially guaranteed to fail at this life game.

Hold up

Before we throw the metaphorical baby out with the bath water, it's important to acknowledge that there are times for putting our serious hat on. And we need to accept, not deny, these occasions.

Maybe we really do want that job. Maybe there really are things in our career that need attention. Maybe the struggle is real right now. That's fine. Normal, even. Accept whatever cocktail reality has served up. We mightn't necessarily approve, but we can only take wise action with our eyes wide open.

A framing we like is "sincere, but not serious". Serious-hat-time is the exception, not the rule. The clown nose returns for all other moments.

Dua Lipa "I'm levitating" gif

Levity: The other path

Y'all know we love a good three-step dance when it comes to the tactical practical. So, here's a lil' routine to get us levitating.

  1. Write a love letter. Grimness can't exist in the presence of gratitude. Take five minutes to grab some paper or pull up a voice memo. These love letters don't have to be sent or even have a human recipient. If a person comes to mind, awesome, but consider penning one to your dog who loves you whether you book or not, the soothing river you sit by during your rehearsal lunch break, or the ridiculous anime you watch to unwind after a long day's shoot.
  2. Dose regularly. Perhaps a cheeky boogie outside a casting office isn't your jam. Fair (though I defy you not to throw some shapes to that August Rigo track in your private time). Why not call a friend during lunch and goof off for a few minutes? Or listen to a comedic podcast on your way to set? Some elite athletes have been seen taking funny selfies moments before high-stakes competitions. Find your groove and schedule in regular hits of joy.
  3. Zoom out. Wrap things up by zooming out to a wider perspective. Yes, the actor's path is one we've identified as tremendously meaningful to us. But let's also remember that we're journeying on a tiny blue-green rock orbiting a flaming ball of gas in an ocean we call "Universe" and don't understand 95% of.[1] Our existence alone is absurd. Also worth keeping in mind is that "cosmic" and "comic" differ only by a letter.

Thoughts / feedback / challenges? We'd genuinely love to hear.

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[1] https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/big-questions/what-universe-made